A new state law requiring what amounts to a “literacy test” for handgun buyers is a slap in the face to firearms civil rights to the same degree that such tests required of black voters in the South were an attack on their voting rights, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) said today.

“On the day our nation celebrates the life of one of the leading civil rights activists of the 20th Century, Dr. Martin Luther King, it is an outrage that California law now treats gun buyers in much the same way that African Americans were treated in the South to prevent them from voting,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “The right to own a firearm is no less important than the right to vote. California is treating gun owners like cracker racists treated black citizens in the South during the days of Segregation.”

Literacy tests were outlawed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Social bigotry against gun owners,” said Gottlieb, “is just as insidious today as racial bigotry was a half-century ago in the South. Yet, here it is, in all of its raging demagoguery, alive and well in the State of California, fueled with the same anti-civil-rights mentality that is always at the core of discrimination.”

Under a new California law that took effect Jan. 1, handgun buyers must pass a 30-question “written test” and pay what amounts to a $25 “poll tax” for a five-year Handgun Safety Certificate, replacing the less-expensive basic safety certificate that was good for life. Gone are exemptions for military veterans and Hunter Education graduates. They must also demonstrate their dexterity with the gun, and endure a 10-day waiting period.

“Dr. King reminded us all that a right delayed is a right denied,” Gottlieb observed. “Yet California not only delays the right to own a firearm, they charge law-abiding citizens for the ‘privilege’ of this affront. Regardless how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ the test questions may be, this new requirement amounts to the same kind of literacy test used to intimidate would-be black voters when Dr. King was alive and fighting for their civil rights.

“Anti-gun prejudice in Sacramento is just as wrong as white prejudice was in Selma,” Gottlieb added. “Those who hate guns will bury themselves in denial, but hatred is still hatred, whether the target is a black citizen or an armed citizen. How is it, in California and elsewhere, that we renounce one form of bigotry while encouraging another?”

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